As I finally approach Act 2 of Baldur's Gate 3 – look, I had to take a break for one of my favorite book series and also to beat Armored Core 6 three times – and ponder whether I'll play Starfield on Steam or pick up Game Pass again, the RPG lineup from this week's big shows weighs on me like the guilt of letting those Act 1 merchants die weighs on my Paladin.
Between everything announced at the September 2023 Nintendo Direct and everything announced at the State of Play which cruelly aired on the same day, Nintendo and Sony have served up a buffet of RPGs and JRPGs which are perilously close to release. It's a good problem to have, but I'm treading water over here.
I'm role-playing a man with too many games and not enough time
I should probably start with the biggest and most-anticipated games of the day, but instead I'm going to gush about Unicorn Overlord some more, which is my most-anticipated RPG of the bunch. It's time to celebrate, folks: Dragon's Crown, Odin Sphere, and 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim developer Vanillaware has announced its next game. I'll see you in the streets for the big parade.
Unicorn Overlord is a predictably gorgeous, unexpectedly strategy-focused RPG with bits of Fire Emblem, Tactics Ogre, and Final Fantasy Tactics peppering its debut trailer. A strategy RPG from the 13 Sentinels devs but with the Dragon's Crown food minigame almost sounds too good to be true. Maybe the ridiculous name is appropriate after all; strategy RPGs, like unicorns, are nothing if not rare and magical. March 8, 2024 can't come soon enough.
OK, fine, we'll talk about Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth. Act surprised: it looks good. Like, really good. Part two of the storied JRPG's remake is coming in February, promising "nearly 100 hours of adventure" in its greatly expanded open world. Vincent is back! Cloud's on a segway! It's a PS5 exclusive until "at least" May 29, 2024! Oh wait, that last one is bad news, actually, particularly to PC gamers. Shit. Oh well, more time to play the rest of these.
An April release date for long-awaited Suikoden spiritual successor Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes was a nice but fairly unsurprising treat for the Nintendo Direct. More surprising was SaGa Emerald Beyond, the first non-mobile entry to the long-running SaGa franchise since the 2018 release of the once Vita-exclusive SaGa: Scarlet Grace. Emerald Beyond looks like the most JRPG to ever JRPG. As someone who knows little about the series, I'm hoping that's a good thing as we approach its 2024 launch.
The Mario double pack looks promising, too. Next year, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door will finally get the Switch release it's always deserved, letting a whole new generation experience one of Nintendo's best RPGs. Here's something else I didn't see coming: I might actually be more into the Super Mario RPG remake due November 17, 2023, as it seems to have taken bigger creative liberties in modernizing the well-aged Super Nintendo classic. Maybe I'm just that big of a sucker for post-game, buffed-up bosses, which is a promising addition to a fairly breezy and cutesy game.
An honorable mention goes to Honkai Star Rail's October 11 PS5 launch. It doesn't matter much to me as I'll continue playing Star Rail alongside Genshin Impact on PC, but if you've been waiting for the console port to try Hoyo's turn-based JRPG, I still wholeheartedly recommend it.
I've saved the out-of-nowhere Tales of Arise story DLC, Beyond the Dawn, for the end. This was one of my favorite games of 2021, so when the gang appeared at the State of Play, I momentarily gave into the immense copium of thinking we were getting Tales of Arise 2 despite its producer previously saying that a direct sequel wasn't in the cards. I am a little disappointed that it's only DLC, but more Tales of Arise is more Tales of Arise, and Beyond the Dawn is a welcome epilogue after two years away. I liked the base game so much that I might even carve out a special little slot for Beyond the Dawn in between the many RPGs that are rapidly spilling out of my overloaded arms.